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Ammonia infrastructure: panel wrap-up from the 2020 Ammonia Energy Conference

Infrastructure is key to realising the full potential of ammonia energy, enabling new markets and expanding the existing ones. By 2050 the hydrogen (and by extension, ammonia) market could be 20 times larger than it is today. What future possibilities are there to expand global ammonia production (currently 180 million tonnes per year) or trade volumes across the world’s oceans (currently 18 million tonnes per year)? On November 18, 2020, the Ammonia Energy Association (AEA) hosted a panel discussion moderated by Daniel Morris from KBR, as well as panel members Anthony Teo from DNV GL, Oliver Hatfield from Argus Media, and Michael Goff from Black & Veatch as part of the recent Ammonia Energy Conference. The panel’s insights from a number of different perspectives - market analytics, ship building and operating, as well as pipeline engineering - demonstrated ammonia's potential to become a low- or zero-carbon fuel of choice for the future. Current infrastructure can be adapted, new infrastructure can be built and operated cheaply, and lessons from previous fuel transitions can be taken on board to make the uptake of ammonia energy as smooth as possible.

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Grieg Maritime and Wärtsilä to Build Ammonia-Fueled Ammonia Tanker

Last month Norwegian shipping company Grieg Maritime Group and Finnish engine and energy equipment manufacturer Wärtsilä announced plans to build an ammonia-fueled tanker that will be ready for service in 2024. The MS Green Ammonia will transport low-carbon ammonia along the Norwegian coast from a factory that will be built in the far-north municipality of Berlevåg.

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Ammonia Featured in Japan’s New Green Growth Strategy

Last month Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) unveiled a policy platform that will help the country realize its goal of achieving carbon-neutrality by 2050. According to a December 25, 2020 METI press release, the “Green Growth Strategy towards 2050 Carbon Neutrality” sets goals for 14 “priority fields” and “formulates action plans covering comprehensive policies in areas such as budgets, taxes, regulation reforms and standardization, and international collaboration.” “Ammonia fuel” and hydrogen are each the focus of a distinct priority field.

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Carbon intensity of fossil ammonia in a net-zero world

In discussions of carbon capture technology for low-carbon ammonia production, there are two informal rule-of-thumb numbers: 60% and 90%. We know we can capture, at very little additional cost, over 60% of the CO2 from a natural gas-based ammonia plant because this is the process gas (the byproduct of hydrogen production). Many ammonia plants already utilize this pure CO2 stream to produce urea or to sell as food grade CO2. The remaining CO2 emissions are in the much more dilute flue gas (the product of fuel combustion to power the process). For some decades we have assumed we could capture most of this but the lingering question has always been: how much of that flue gas is economically feasible to capture? A team of researchers at Imperial College London has just published a fascinating study into this question, entitled “Beyond 90% capture: Possible, but at what cost?” The paper quantifies the tipping point — ranging from 90% to 99%, depending on flow rates and concentration — beyond which it is easier to capture CO2 directly from the air than it is to capture more flue gas emissions.

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Marine Ammonia: panel wrap-up from the 2020 Ammonia Energy Conference

What action is needed to unlock the enormous potential of green ammonia as a marine fuel and get the new generation of ammonia-powered vessels on the water? On November 18, 2020, the Ammonia Energy Association (AEA) hosted a panel discussion moderated by Sofia Fürstenberg Stott from Fürstenberg Maritime Advisory, as well as panel members Tue Johannessen from the Center for Zero Carbon Shipping, Katharine Palmer from Lloyd’s Register, Rob Stevens from Yara International, and Kazumasa Taruishi from NYK Energy Transport.

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United Nations Sparks Green Hydrogen Initiative

Last month UN Climate Change announced an initiative whose goal is to scale up green hydrogen production significantly over the next six years. “The new ‘Green Hydrogen Catapult’ initiative will see green hydrogen industry leaders, including ACWA Power, CWP Renewables, Envision, Iberdrola, Ørsted, Snam, and Yara, target the deployment of 25 gigawatts through 2026 of renewables-based hydrogen production, with a view to halve the current cost of hydrogen to below US$2 per kilogram.”

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Tsubame BHB Launches Joint Evaluation with Mitsubishi Chemical

Last month Tsubame BHB, a Japanese developer of ammonia synthesis technology, announced the signing of a “joint evaluation contract” with Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation (MCC) that will focus on a novel ammonia separation membrane. The company, which started operations in 2017, is working on a method of ammonia synthesis that could allow economic production at scales 1-2 orders of magnitude below today’s plants.

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A Fuel Standard for Ammonia: panel wrap-up from the Ammonia Energy Conference 2020

What are the key considerations for a future Ammonia Fuel Standard? On November 17, 2020, the Ammonia Energy Association (AEA) hosted a panel discussion moderated by Ron Stanis from GTI (Gas Technology Institute), as well as panel members David Richardson from Airgas, Rob Steele from EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute), Eric Smith from IIAR (International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration), and Dorthe Jacobsen from MAN Energy Solutions at the recent Ammonia Energy Conference. The AEA Fuel Standard Committee has been developing a draft product specification that will facilitate the acceptance of ammonia as a fuel. The overall message from panelists came through loud and clear: the draft standard is ready for stakeholder comments, and the Fuel Standard Committee welcomes your input.

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Full electrification: Yara plans 500,000 tons of green ammonia in Norway by 2026

Green ammonia projects continue to be announced at dizzying speed and scale. A few weeks ago, Origin Energy disclosed its feasibility study to develop 500 MW (hydro) / 420,000 tons per year of green ammonia in Tasmania, with first production targeted for mid-2020s. This week, a consortium led by Haldor Topsoe and Vestas announced 10 MW (wind+solar) / 5,000 tons of green ammonia in Denmark, which could be operational in 2022, making it the first green ammonia plant at this scale. Also this week, Yara made a significant corporate announcement, detailing a “transformation of its commercial business models, sales channels and offerings,” with the full decarbonization of its Porsgrunn plant at the heart of its strategy to use green ammonia “to enable the hydrogen economy.”

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Green Ammonia at Oil and Gas Scale: Ammonia Energy Conference 2020 Keynote

What does green ammonia look like at oil and gas scale? To open the Ammonia Energy Conference 2020 - and give us some insights into this question - we were thrilled to welcome Alex Tancock, Managing Director of InterContinental Energy (ICE). Since 2014 ICE has been in the business of identifying the new generation of “Green Supergiants”: green hydrogen and green ammonia fusion projects based on large-scale renewable energy. Alex was excited to pass on the key lessons learnt from the development of ICE’s first publicized project - the Asian Renewable Energy Hub (AREH) in north-western Australia.